Elderly Woman Scammed out of Thousands

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

September 13, 2006

Crimes against the elderly have police urging people to be aware of potential con artists. One local woman was unknowingly scammed by men offering to fix her roof. The 90-year-old woman said she should have known better, but unfortunately fell victim to three men offering to fix leaks in her roof that she never had, and then left her with new damage to the interior of her home.

"It makes me mad, makes me feel that I have been violated, and makes me mad at myself mostly," Elizabeth said.

Just the reaction you might expect from her after she learned she had been conned out of several thousand dollars. The Charlottesville resident says she was duped by three men Monday afternoon when they offered to check her roof for leaks.

"He said that he and his father had put the roof on and he said I'm going to check your roof for leaks and in order to do that I need to take the hose to the roof," Elizabeth explained.

Describing some of the shingles as "buckled" and needing repairs, they claimed to fix them, but never did.

"Not only did they do that, but they put water through the vent, the air vent that's on the roof and that came into the dining room and streaked it to the point that I'll have to have it repainted," she said.

After realizing she had been scammed, Elizabeth tried to stop payment on the check she gave the three men, only to learn that it had been cashed not 24 hours after she had written it. That's when she turned to city police who said she is not alone.

"When they do come and they start doing it, they'll usually hit several people at one time. We'll see them come either passing through town and find a number of elderly victims," Lt. Pleasants of Charlottesville City Police said.

That's just what they found with Elizabeth who says that yes getting her money back would be great, "but I would like very much to have them stopped."

When she paid the men, she asked for a phone number and they gave her one. It turned out to be that of a Crozet resident who had never heard of the man. Police say the check was cashed in Charlottesville and they are optimistic about making an arrest.

In addition to the roofing scam, police say the con artists will use driveway repavement and basic yardwork to dupe the elderly.

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